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NUS march - report and pics (#demo2012)

rikki | 21.11.2012 22:43 | Public sector cuts | Repression | London

at the start of the march there were up to ten thousand students from all over the country - directed on an agreed route to kennington park in south london (hardly the seat of government), barely a thousand made it as far as the rally which then ended in chaos as NUS president liam burns was pelted with eggs as some activists invaded the stage.


front of march
front of march

protection racket
protection racket

batons drawn
batons drawn


free gaza
free gaza

thought for the day
thought for the day

fuck aus***ity
fuck aus***ity


the park
the park

liam burns dodges eggs
liam burns dodges eggs

barriers down
barriers down

stage invasion
stage invasion

the end
the end

click on pics for larger version. some rights reserved. free for credited, non-commercial, radical use. otherwise ©2012 contact author

the students, many bussed in from around the country, assembled this morning at temple park on the embankment, and then shortly after midday they headed west. despite the fact that parliament square was not on the route, the palace of westminster was protected by double fencing boxes weighed down by sandbags, and hundreds of police mounted an operation which included very visible horses, to discourage and prevent any students from diverting to whitehall or parliament square.

the same box fences barred the way at westminster bridge road, and as the students marched past, several hundred broke out of the cordon and ran straight for the barricades where a few minor scuffles ensued. some police drew batons as protestors tried to dismantle one of the fences, and other lines of police briefly pushed protestors back.

the huge number of NUS stewards were anxiously instructing students to keep moving and to walk over westminster bridge away from the place where all the decisions about EMA, tuition fees, and education cuts, have been made. they wanted their peers to walk through the pouring rain to a rally a couple of miles away in a muddy park. many, unsurprisingly, didn't want to go.

there was a sit-down on the bridge, a samba band started playing on the westminster side, and progress was very very slow.

even along the route to the park, a large group had stopped under the railway bridge behind waterloo station, causing traffic chaos, enjoying the shelter, and making lots of noise, echoing under the bridge. still the stewards begged them to keep moving.

who are these unpaid police aids? senior stewards wired with earpieces and in direct communication with police, barking instructions to their teams, hiding behind the language of safety and inclusivity while helping the state to prevent any meaningful protest. and of course the baby-blue-tabarded police 'protest liaison' officers were also strongly represented, intruding into the crowd and engaging people in conversation, wired for sound while FIT teams filmed and photographed from a distance, collecting their intelligence and assessing the mood.

no wonder by the time the rally arrived at kennington park, there were less than a thousand left.

we've previously had protests banned from ending in rallies in royal parks because of the possible damage to the grass. but the grass in south london is clearly deemed far less important, and as the turf turned to mud under the trampling crowd, josie long (god bless her), took to the stage to try to uplift and entertain the sodden students, before introducing the first speakers.

union officials traipsed one after another on to the stage, speaking of winning the fight, of unity, of breaking the government, but not one of them calling for real action or a general strike.

a group of several dozen activists were intent on exposing the hypocrisy of these speakers, and heckled, called for that strike, shouted down the platitudes, and when liam burns, NUS president, took to the stage, they chanted "NUS, shame on you. where the fuck have you brought us to", and started pelting him with eggs, forcing him to dance around dodging them.

finally, a dozen or so tore down the barriers, and despite the heavy-handed efforts of private security, they occupied the stage, forcing liam burns to make a hasty exit. attempting to speak to the ever-diminishing crowd, they found the microphone instantly turned off, but with a loud-hailer, they exhorted people to ignore the police section 12 conditions in place and to join them marching back to westminster to make their voices heard in front of parliament.

the miserable weather, the fading light, the muddy park, and the lines of coaches ready to transport out-of-towners back home, all conspired to deflate the small revolution, and besides, parliament square was still locked down and classed as a "sterile area" by police who turned away the few students still in the area.

so the 2012 demo was once again made impotent by the state, helped by student organisers and union VIPs, and given a bare minimum of coverage by most of the media.

the majority of MPs still fiddle their expenses, while the poor and dispossessed suffer, and most of the the education system becomes a privatised, second-rate, money-spinner, with good education only available to the rich and the privileged. and the young face joblessness or menial slave labour disguised as workfare, while the companies they toil for pay no taxes. but at least they had their day of democracy, in a muddy park in south london.

- e-mail: rikkiindymedia[At]gmail(d0t)com


Hide the following 21 comments

Couldn't put it better myself

22.11.2012 01:21

Today felt like we were maybe able to do something today, make our point heard and carry on what we started in 2010 of not taking this governments shit lying down. Once we got past parliament however, it was clear what had happened. The officials of the NUS who are nothing more than careerists who use what is laughably called the students union as a spring board to a job in politics, had sold us out. They didn't want to cause fuss so they gave us a token march and kept it as impotent as possible. Called on a Wednesday and without a student strike called the sixth formers and college students who have as much right to be there as anyone, were excluded. We were kept away from going a usual march route and past the seats of power just to keep us away from Milbank and Starbucks in case we caused trouble. The NUS is no good. With the exception of 10% off at subway or top shop, what does the NUS do? It's time the NUS was fucked off and a union that's run and listens to its members is called into being. This isn't a wake up call to the NUS but a wake up call to students, the NUS is not our union, lets make one.

mail e-mail:

I'm womble...

22.11.2012 04:39

When I say I'm a womble, i mean I stockpile junk...

i don't live in the UK anymore, but before i left i gave away a big bag of helmets, ski goggles, gloves, helmets etcs, to like-minded trouble-makers, and its great (and a little random) to see a scuba mask i brought in Dalston Oxfam for £1, being worn by some random black blocker in a photo.

(No idea why that idiot is wearing a scuba mask, i had about 5 scuba masks i was going to send to Zad occupation in France for tear gas etc)

the reason I always collected goggles, helmets and gloves is cause they're fucking useful, no one else in london seemed to have to the time or space to stockpile these things.
it might be a few tools from a carboot sale for 50p, perfect for a squatter, or 10 sets cricket shin pads.

in december 2010, the big student demo my squatter mates and I brought along about 20 black flags of various sizes, they were all from broom handles and black fabric that i had collected.

at other demos we brought motorbike/construction helmets (borrowed/found/stolen), spare black clothing/face masks

I do believe in a-b marches, workerers struggles, but I also believe in direct action and fucking shit up a little. and thats what we need to do, set an example.

The UK has clearly gone limp/wussy again, other people on indymedia have said the same thing, "Where are the rudeboys?" we need to get out into the ghettos and raves, and get the trouble makers out in the streets, we need to bait the media with bullshit hysteria stories, to guantee the angry kids hear about it.


The march was not that bad

22.11.2012 08:57

To say the march was rubbish is an overstatement. We got ten thousand people out onto the streets, but most of them left before the end of the march due to heavy rain. The march did go past Parliament as most people wanted with thousands of people making their point as it passed the Parliament building on Westminster bridge road where there were sit down protests and almost an hour of very loud shouting which must have been heard by the MPs inside. It didn't go to Parliament Square but so what, the noisy demo was still heard by the MPs inside the commons and that is what we wanted.

NUS spokesperson

Anarchists, Toys, Pram... & the student occupation at SOAS?

22.11.2012 13:06

The NCAFC feeder march started at Gower St near Euston Rd, picked up alot more supporters on Malet St, did a U-turn round the SOAS / ULU campus to the NE corner of Russell Sq, where a bunch of anarchists tried to storm through a police line into the student occupation at SOAS

If they'd succeeded, that would have taken a big student protest off the main roads, back into a university campus, risking potentially dozens of pointless arrests, preventing the feeder march from joining the main demo, and making sure this march's messages went out to a small group of student radicals in the SOAS occupation, completely ignoring the general public in the surrounding streets

So, were the geniuses who tried to storm the SOAS occupation the same people who stormed the stage in Kennington?



22.11.2012 13:07

Sure the NUS were wrong to take the march to Kennington, but the way to respond to that was not NOT to give the Daily Mail EXACTLY what they wanted -


This march is shit, the future is shit, all I want is revenge !!!

22.11.2012 13:20

"This march is shit, the future is shit, all I want is revenge"?

If you were serious about wanting revenge, you'd actually be planning revenge, the last thing you'd be doing is waving banners about it in front of police photographers on a sodding demonstration

Some radicals need to grow the fuck up and bin the "I want, I want" politics. Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one. You might as well fly a banner saying "If society doesn't give me what I want now, I'll sqweam and sqweam and sqweam until I'm thsick"

No-one's not interested in your OPINION, what we need to hear about is what you're DOING to effect real social change, but in this case the answer to that is that you're focussing on the shortcomings of the NUS in order to distract attention away from how you yourselves are capable of delivering so much LESS

Criticising the NUS for being careerists is like criticising the Man-U squad for being footballers. What's RELEVANT in this situation is what alternatives you're delivering


Anarchists successfully organise ......

22.11.2012 15:12

......... trip to Off-License

Phill in

The NUS is shit

22.11.2012 15:18

You can't organise a demonstration and hope the Daily Mail write a supporting article, that's stupid. The NUS have failed, it's time for students to start organising a new national union that's willing to fight the cuts properly.


Who are these unpaid police aids?

22.11.2012 19:11

The people who post clear face-shots of the stage-invaders on Indymedia, that's who!


Everyone's a critic

22.11.2012 19:32

Jon, you just don't get it do you mate. Yes the NUS is arguably "shit", but yes the Anarchist movement is about a 1,000 times more shit. Yes the NUS can be said to have "failed", if you define failure as meaning they didn't reverse govt policy or bring down capitalism, but where they succeeded was in bringing-out 10,000 protestors out onto the streets, where the Anarchist movement brought out at best a few dozen. Sure the NUS should have protested last year, but given that they didn't it's good they did this year. Sure the NUS should have marched to Parliament Square, but given that the cops would have battered anyone that tried, it's pretty good the marchers at least managed to block one side of Parliament for hours without any arrests. Yes it might be time for "students to start organising a new national union that's willing to fight the cuts properly", but your opinion is worth nothing, because you're not offering anything beyond pointless oxygen-wasting comments about "I want this", "I want that etc" and hoping that waving your magic-wand will somehow conjure-up new political organisations that at present only exist in your imagination

Now, if you can prove to us that you're the person doing the work to both create that new organisation and to ensure it succeeds, that'd be fine, but at present what your posts amount to is a statement equivalent to saying "wouldn't it be great IF someone else put in the work needed to create a radical alternative to the NUS, as long as the person doing all that work doesn't have to be me"

Radicals saying "IF" is exactly what the establishment want to hear


@ jean

22.11.2012 21:10

There were at most 5000 people on that "protest". The nus are a disgrace to humanity. There is no anarchist movement-just an ever decreasing group of people who know what's going on in this world and who give a shit. Self defence of planet earth should be encouraged and if that means fighting the copscum so be it. The uk government blows poor children to pieces when they disagree with other nations- get angry at that rather than real people standing up for their rights.


yeah right

22.11.2012 22:25

>>There were at most 5000 people on that "protest". The nus are a disgrace to humanity. There is no anarchist movement-just an ever decreasing group of people who know what's going on in this world and who give a shit. Self defence of planet earth should be encouraged and if that means fighting the copscum so be it. The uk government blows poor children to pieces when they disagree with other nations- get angry at that rather than real people standing up for their rights.

And where is it written that the NUS has to be stuffed to the rafters with anarchists?
Maybe they arn't into anarchism? Maybe they think anarchists are a bunch of crock?
And where is it written that anarchists are the group of people who know whats going on in the world? If thats so try, why are they constantly on the bottom of the food chain if they are so smart?

Everyone blows poor children to pieces - it isn't an exclusivity of one nation.
Go anywhere in Africa and you fill find plenty of children blown to pieces that has nothing to do with the uk government. You are clueless.


fuck the nus

22.11.2012 22:35

The uk government is a bunch of terrorists and pedos. We all know it. Get on the streets and fuck shit up and be proud. Time is running out.


just in

22.11.2012 22:46

The uk government is a bunch of terrorists and pedos. We all know it. Get on the streets and fuck shit up and be proud. Time is running out.

loser. a sure fire recipe to remain poor and a loser. carry on if you think thats best


response to Rick re face pics

22.11.2012 23:28

i always consider carefully what images to post and whether to hide faces.

in this case, none of the participants were committing offences, none of them chose to attempt to conceal their faces, and they went on a stage in front of an audience that undoubtedly already contained cops, so my opinion is that there was nothing to gain from hiding their faces.

in other situations i do sometimes smudge faces or simply not publish pics that i have taken.

for the above reasons i think your point was misjudged in this case, but it does serve to remind activists to take much more care over their street anonymity if it's important to them. the police in london have far more sophisticated camera equipment than i do, including gigapixel gear etc.


Never trust anyone in a suit and tie

22.11.2012 23:37

The rich scum cannot get away with it anymore. Dec 5-all out and protest.

my name

I want, I want, I want.

23.11.2012 10:04

And why does this prove that these people should be entitled to 3+ years of education for free?
The people who deserve an education where likely at work at the time, no?


valuable report

23.11.2012 11:25

event all but ignored in mainstream media. Salient piece, thank you rikki



23.11.2012 12:52

"Event all but ignored in mainstream media"? Except for the major report and debate on NEWSNIGHT, which is still available to watch on BBC i-player, and major coverage in the international media like the Huffington Post and Russia Today

@sb - it helps if you bother to Google a few obvious search terms

Were you the person who under the name "nihilist" posted this crap?


Everyone's a critic

26.11.2012 23:27

Funny thing is, no matter how many times people ask critics of demos like this what they can offer by way of a pragmatically effective alternative, there's virtually never (as above, to date) any reply....